[Marxism] Federal Attorney against the wall (Granma)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 11 14:02:40 MST 2004


As is normally the case, the Cuban media
provides a much more detailed look at what
took place in the federal courtroom hearing
the appeal of the Cuban Five yesterday than
was provided in the US mainstram media. Take
the time to read this report in detail as it
demonstrates that the long work of building
up public awareness of this has borne fruit.
The defendants and attorneys express hope for
an fair and objective response to the appeal.

Here are the two mainstream media reports
which you can compare with the Granma report
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23752 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23758
===========================================

GRANMA INTERNATIONAL
Havana. March, 11 2004

THE FIVE: APPEAL HEARING IN MIAMI
Federal Attorney against the wall

• The judges’ questions in the Miami appeal hearing for the
five Cuban patriots point to a more objective procedure
highlighting doubts over the charges

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD
Special for Granma International

MIAMI—Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Heck-Miller found
herself in an embarrassing position when faced with various
questions by the three judges from the 11th Circuit Court
of Appeals during the hearing of the case of the five
Cubans imprisoned in the United States.

She was clearly not expecting some of them, at least not in
the way that they were formulated:

"Where is the reference that he (Gerardo Hernández) was
going to know that it would be a murderous shoot-down as
opposed to one justified by [Cuban] sovereignty," Judge
Birch asked her, in relation to Gerardo’s alleged
participation in the Cessna incident on February 24, 1996.

Concealing her nervousness with difficulty, Heck-Miller
tried to give explanations that used up more than a few of
the scant minutes at her disposal.

"If the charge of murder is withdrawn, what charges remain
against Hernández," Judge Birch asked later, which made
observers think that he was inclined to doubt the validity
of the famous charge 3 that gave this Cuban patriot the
most disproportionate of all the sentences handed down to
the Five.

In a somewhat dislocated plea, Heck-Miller went so far as
to insinuate that the downing of the light aircraft was a
Cuban strategy to launch a propaganda campaign against the
United States. An apt reflection of the Miami atmosphere
that shocked more than one person on the public benches.

Previously, the same judge had suddenly asked the federal
attorney, at that time marshalling an argument somewhat
unrelated to the issue being discussed:

"And what is the link of all this with ‘murder’?"

A similar situation arose when the same U.S. government
representative tried to reply to Leonard Weinglass,
Antonio’s lawyer, who presented the defense arguments on
the change-of-venue issue, based on jurisprudence.

The attorney emphasized the extent to which the denial of a
change of venue by Judge Lenard was inexplicable, and how
that refusal was later contradicted by the DA’s Office
itself in the case of Ramírez, an Immigration Service
official in Miami who brought a suit against the government
claiming that he had been discriminated against for being
Cuban.

In that case the DA’s Office asked for a change of venue
due to the fact that a Cuban should not face trial in Miami
because the environment was not a favorable one.

Attempting somewhat desperately to defend her position, the
assistant attorney made various references to the case of
Elian González and the press "sensationalism" taken
advantage of by Ramírez, thus giving the reason to the
Five’s defense lawyers, who proposed that the trial should
be heard in another city precisely because there could be
no impartiality in an anti-Castro hotbed like Miami.

One of the defense lawyers, Joaquín Méndez, stressed that
the prejudice encountered in Miami during the trial was not
only apparent in the jury selection, but also when Capo
José Basulto, a man with a terrorist background, publicly
described a defense lawyer as a "communist spy," equivalent
to a death threat in this city.

On another occasion, he related, unknown individuals
appeared in the courtroom with paramilitary-style uniforms.

The issue of conspiracy to commit espionage was barely
mentioned in this hearing, which took place before judges
Birch, Kravich and Oakes in an immense wood-paneled
courtroom and large lamps in the Roman style, where some 50
people occupied six large benches and some chairs.

THE MIAMI MAFIA KEEP QUIET THIS TIME

This time the Miami mafia refrained from the noisy
demonstrations they organized during the trial when various
jury members were forced to complain of intimidation
tactics.

Their presence was reduced to a small "delegation" of half
a dozen counterrevolutionary elements, among them
individuals who have also been seen in Panama supporting
international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

However, the presence of suspicious individuals linked to
terrorist groups was noticed in the neighboring hotel where
representatives of solidarity committees were located as
the hearing was underway in the court.

"They didn’t have answers to various questions asked by the
Court!" commented Paul McKenna, as he reached the sidewalk
where the press was awaiting the defense team. "We are very
satisfied. I think the judges will consider this case very
carefully, particularly the charges of conspiracy to
murder. They asked the government (federal attorneys) a lot
of questions. I think we’re on the way to obtaining justice
for the Five."

"It would seem that there isn’t enough evidence to sustain
charge 3 (conspiracy to murder). And that they are also
concerned over the fact that there was no change of venue,
when the government itself demanded it in the Ramírez case.
They are also concerned at the sentences, given that the
life ones were handed down despite there being no threat to
national security," he noted.

For his part, leaving the court, Leonard Weinglass stressed
that "the accused were not asking for anything more than a
minimal change, at no real inconvenience to the
government," in their request for a change of venue, and
that the DA’s Office tried to take advantage of the very
particular political climate in Miami.

EMPHASIS ON THE WEAKNESS OF 
THE CONSPIRACY TO MURDER CHARGE

Joaquín Menéndez was very satisfied that the judges placed
such emphasis on charge 3, the charge for which they have
the least evidence to hold up a verdict.

"It looks as if they were also concerned at the harshness
of the sentences for espionage," he said while observing
that the court’s questions indicate that the judges are
well informed from the combined appeal briefs for the case,
a particularly complex one.

Evidently, the advertisement published in The New York
Times in favor of the Five, and the seven-minute report
transmitted five times by the Fox TV network have alerted
the attention of the U.S. press, who had remained silent to
that point in relation to this case, despite its highly
particular characteristics.

The CNN en español network has referred to the trial on
various occasions, as well as the AP news agency, while
seven television channels were present outside the court
and at the subsequent press conference in Miami’s Sheraton
Hotel.

However, at the press conference, reporters from the media
linked to the Mafia leadership tried unsuccessfully to
‘direct the debate,’ demonstrating in their obdurate
attitude exactly why this Florida city should not have been
the venue fort an impartial trial on any issue related to
Cuba.

U.S. CONSTITUTION ITSELF 
ON THE SIDE OF THE FIVE

The assembled reporters listened attentively to statements
from Weinglass and the various international jurists at the
press conference.

Dr. Carlos Zamorano from Argentina, who represents the
American Jurists Association and the Argentine Human Rights
League, highlighted how his country suffered from
Cuban-American terrorism through Operation Condor and said
that he was hoping for a favorable court decision "to the
honor of U.S. justice," in the face of the scourge of
terrorism.

"The U.S. Constitution itself is on the side of the five,"
affirmed Edith Flamand, from the Progressive Lawyers
Network of Belgium, while Italian lawyer Fabio Marcelli,
from the International Democratic Lawyers Association,
called for the independence of justice in the face of
constant maneuvers by the U.S. executive power, and
denounced the "flagrant contradictions" in prosecution
pretensions in relation to the change of venue.

"There is not enough evidence" to sustain the various
charges, noted Everhard Schultz from the Human Rights
League, also representing the Lawyers Association of
Berlin, where defense attorney Weinglass is about to
travel, taking the cause of the Cuban anti-terrorists to
the German capital.

Ian D. Thompson, speaking on behalf of the U.S. National
Lawyers Guild. justified before the press this
organization’s strong interest in the cause of the Five
after a broad analysis of this flagrant case of injustice.

"Justice will prevail!" proclaimed British priest Geoff
Bottoms, leader of the UK Support for the Five Committee,
addressing the U.S. public. "Your judicial system has both
the capacity and the competence for that," he affirmed.

Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the U.S. Free the Five
solidarity committee, used the press conference to mention
the existence in the world of hundreds of groups supporting
the Five in their battle for justice.

"Now we have broken down the wall of silence, she affirmed
with evident satisfaction, after years of struggle to make
known the cause of the Cuban patriots.

The night before, a group of jurists supporting the Five
met with a large group of Cuban Americans in the hall of
the Martí Alliance, an organization linking many Miami
groups demanding respect for Cuba’s sovereignty and the
normalization of relations between the island and the
United States.

In this occasion, journalist Max Lesnik launched an
energetic call for an end to Miami terrorism and saluted
the great courage of the Five in that struggle.

"What they went to defend is not only Cuba, which is their
motherland, our motherland. They also went to defend the
United States," Max declared, denouncing the
"incomprehensible attitude and arrogance of a myopic
political leadership that fails to understand how to get on
well with the world."

March 10 demonstrated that an important and concrete step
has been made in the cause of the Five. Now come the months
of waiting for the verdict of the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals in Atlanta, which will not be characterized by
calm. Many people in solidarity throughout the world will
be continuing the incessant battle for truth and justice in
defense of the five Cuban patriots and anti-terrorist
fighters.






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